Trajectories, settlements and narratives of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan
Imad Amer (Ifpo), Kamel Doraï (Ifpo), Anna Poujeau (Ifpo)
31th March, 21th April, 19th May, 16th June 2021
03:00-05:00 PM Beirut time / 02:00-04:00 PM Paris Time / 01:00-03:00 PM London Time
In the frame of a cooperation between the MAGYC and ANR SHAKK research programs, this monthly webinar will explore the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan in its geographical, sociological, political and economic dimensions while analyzing the events that led to their departure from Syria. Thus, we wish to emphasize the links between the conditions of departure of Syrians from their country and those of their arrival and settlement in Lebanon and Jordan. We will examine both the Syrian military and political strategies deployed to force populations to flee their homes and the political and economic decisions of host countries regarding the settlement of Syrian refugees on their territory.
Within a reflection that crosses historical, sociological, geographical and political perspectives, we will develop three axes of research: one will deal with the legal framework by questioning its writing contexts according to the stages of the conflict in Syria, the political situation within the host countries and the various injunctions of international bodies that shape the question of Syrian refugees; another one dealing with the settlement of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan by focusing on the trajectories, the formal or informal housing and the legal status of their presence in the host countries through, in particular, the issue of employment. Finally, we will put the narratives of the refugees themselves on their trajectories in Syria and in the host countries into perspective with the different stages of the the conflict as we are able to reconstruct them today and with the Lebanese and Jordanian local policies for refugees host.
Parcours, installations et récits des Syriens réfugiés au Liban et en Jordanie
Dans le cadre d’une coopération entre le programme MAGYC et l’ANR SHAKK, ce webinaire mensuel a pour objectif d’explorer la question des réfugiés syriens au Liban et en Jordanie dans ses dimensions à la fois géographique, sociologique, politique et économique tout en analysant les événements ayant conduits au départ en Syrie. Ainsi, nous souhaitons mettre en perspective les conditions de départ des Syriens de leur pays et celles d’arrivée et d’installation des réfugiés syriens au Liban et en Jordanie en interrogeant à la fois les stratégies militaires et politiques syriennes déployées afin de forcer les populations à fuir leurs maisons et les décisions politiques et économiques des pays d’accueil concernant l’installation des réfugiés syriens sur leur territoire. Au sein d’une réflexion croisant des perspectives historiques, sociologiques, géographiques et politiques nous déployons trois pistes de recherche : l’une portant sur les textes officiels de lois et de décrets en interrogeant leurs contextes de rédaction à la fois du point de vue de l’avancée du conflit en Syrie, de la situation politique du pays d’accueil et des diverses injonctions des instances internationales régulant la question des réfugiés syriens ; un autre portant sur l’installation en tant que telle des réfugiés syriens au Liban et en Jordanie en s’intéressant aux parcours, aux habitats formels ou informels et aux statuts juridiques de leurs présences dans les pays d’accueil à travers notamment la question de l’emploi, enfin nous chercherons à mettre en perspective les récits des réfugiés eux-mêmes sur leurs parcours en Syrie et dans le pays d’accueil avec l’histoire du conflit tel que nous pouvons la reconstituer aujourd’hui et celle des politiques locales libanaise et jordanienne d’accueil des réfugiés.
19th May, 2021, 03:00-04:30 pm (Beirut time)
Imad Amer, Ifpo-Beirut
Discusssant : Jalal al-Husseini (Ifpo)
Moderators: Kamel Doraï (Ifpo-CNRS-MEAE) & Anna Poujeau (Ifpo-CNRS)
Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: The Politics of No Policies
The lack of clarity and consistency on behalf of the Lebanese authority’s politics towards the Syrian refugees has left question and concerns in this regard unresolved to date. Indeed, the absence of one or more specific institutional references, the variety of influential actors and decision makers, as well as the glaring absence of national public policies from the central government directing local authorities’ responses have created a highly complex legal and political landscape.
Yet, despite the variety of actors involved, including but not restricted to, informal local bodies such as sectarian groups, political parties, Non-governmental organizations and international entities, the central government has nonetheless retained a degree of control on few specific aspects vis a vis this file. As such, education, security, and major international funding and response remained exclusive to and under the mandate of the Government and its associated relevant ministries. Arguably, the Government has also capitalized on the Syrian refugees crisis as a means to amass international funds while simultaneously lagging behind on granting refugees their basic human rights.
In this meeting, we will discuss the policies of the Lebanese state through the laws issued by the Parliament, resolutions and decrees issued by the central government and relevant ministries, their impact and their implementation. The presentation will also explain the role of various municipalities and their interaction with such policies, and the role of security institutions in the response to the refugee crisis.
21th April, 2021, 03:00-05:00 pm (Beirut Time)
Dr. Faten Kikano, Collège de Rosemont-Canada (Centre d’études en responsabilité sociale et écocitoyenne – Cérsé)
Discussant : Kamel Doraï (Ifpo-CNRS-MEAE)
The freedom to settle, a poisoned gift: the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Organized camps for Syrian refugees have been prohibited in Lebanon, a decision for which the international community praised the country. However, concurrently with their urban “inclusion”, the Lebanese state excluded Syrian refugees from institutional systems. More than 70% are deprived from a legal status. As a consequence, whether in urban or rural settings, refugee housing is based on informal rent agreements. Deprived from state protection and denied legal recourse, refugees are at the mercy of property owners and other actors, sometimes refugees themselves. In most cases, they pay excessive rent for precarious spaces in which they are constantly at risk of eviction. Similar predatory behaviors occur in their employment in the informal market.
Based on a recently submitted doctoral thesis, this presentation shows that, while Lebanon adopted a non-encampement policy to avoid consolidation of refugee spaces and permanence of their asylum, refugees’ institutional exclusion by the Lebanese state increased their vulnerability and prevented them from resettling or repatriating. Their freedom to settle proved to be a poisoned gift, a strategy that facilitates their exploitation and serves the interest of powerful private actors. We conclude that achieving spatial justice for refugees goes beyond the type of space — camp or no-camp — assigned for them. Settling refugees outside camps is often a worthless privilege if it is not combined with their inclusion in host state systems and their institutional, legal, and socioeconomic empowerment.
Bio: Faten Kikano is a researcher in the Cérsé, a research center specialized in social innovation and sustainable development. She holds a PhD from the faculty of environmental studies at Université de Montréal. Her research interests focus on understanding refugees’ agency in space utilization. She explores the role of government and non-government stakeholders and the impact of hosting policies on refugees’ institutional, economic, and social conditions and on the process of place-making in refugee spaces. Prior her career as a researcher, she has 20 years of experience as a practitioner in architecture and design and an instructor in the most prestigious universities in Lebanon.
31th March, 2021, 03h00-05h00 PM (Beirut Time)
The Urbicide of Syria
Sawsan Abou Zainedin and Hani Fakhani (Both Syrian architects and urban development practitioners with master’s degrees from the Bartlett’s Development Planning Unit at UCL. They co-found SAKAN, a programme aimed at developing alternative recovery-driven housing models in Syria).
Discussant : Sari Hanafi (American University of Beirut)
The session will deconstruct the concept of urbicide in the Syrian context and its correlations with displacement and return to demonstrate how the urban sphere has been manipulated by the Syrian regime as part of a systematic strategy to enforce demographic engineering and consolidate authoritarian power.
Sawsan Abou Zainedin is a Syrian architect and urban development planner. Her work tackles the impact of urban processes and reconstruction efforts on social justice and peace. She has worked in research, and international and local development with academic institutions, think tanks, INGOs, Syrian civil society organizations and media outlets. Sawsan is a Chevening scholar. She holds MSc in Urban Development Planning with distinction from the Bartlett’s Development Planning Unit of University College London. She holds a post-graduate diploma from the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies at Erasmus University, and a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Aleppo.
Hani Fakhani is a Syrian architect and urban practitioner. His work focusses on housing and post-conflict reconstruction in Syria through research and practice. He holds a MSc with distinction in Building and Urban Design in Development from University College London where he researched the interrelations between reconstruction, governance, and peace in Syria. He is the co-founder of a private architectural services company that worked on a range of projects including urban regeneration, housing, and public service projects. He is also the co-founded a Syrian local architectural services company in Damascus which won national awards for urban development and infrastructure project proposals with Damascus Municipality and Governorate prior to 2011.
Sawsan and Hani have recently co-founded Sakan Housing Communities; a start-up social enterprise aimed at developing inclusive and socially just housing programmes to aid social, economic, and institutional recovery in Syria.